Some catching up

Occurs to me I’ve left a couple of previous entries hanging unfinished, so I’ll attend that right now.

One. Back in May I had some things to say about the (then) upcomingStar Wars movie, “Revenge of the Sixth.” I gyrated through various explorations and rants, came to the conclusion that the film’s storytelling merits or demerits were merely incidental to how I felt about it, and allowed as how I might then take in a matinee to get an eyeful of what was supposed to be a gorgeous visual experience.

Which I did, about two weeks after “Sith” opened. (Rarely will I wait in a line. For anything.) And visually, the film was indeed a wonder to behold. I remember thinking that never before had I seen environments so meticulously, so completely realized. Give the crew at Lucasfilm and friends credit; I completely believed in the buildings, the architectural details, the textures, the perspectives… In short, I believed in those made-up worlds and cities, particularly Coruscant. It was very easy to imagine what it might be like to live there; there was no sense of disbelief or disconnet whatsoever. Kudos for that. (The story still inhaled forcefully, though.)

Two. A little later, in June, I spoke about the soon-to-open Steven Spielberg version of “War of the Worlds.” I put a lot of weight upon (what I thought was) the hook, given in a magazine preview, that Tom Cruise’s character had a vintage Mustang. I opined that because such a car had none of the computers or even electronics that infest even the lowest-end vehicles today, it would be able to function after the Martians used an electromagnetic pulse to wipe out our defenses.

Oh well, win some, lose some. The pony car didn’t play any such part. Actually, given some of the gaping plot holes in the movie, its presence wouldn’t have made much difference. Big gripe: If all electronic devices have been rendered useless, then why in an opening scene are we treated to scenes of carnage as shown in the viewscreen of a working digital movie camera? Big gripe: Tom Cruise gets a van to run by replacing the solenoid in the starter. Smaller sub-gripe: Wrong, that’s not what an electromagnetic pulse would damage, especially not when the vehicle is crammed with a thousand other electronic systems that would be fried. Second smaller sub-gripe: Okay, let’s give Tom the benefit of that big old doubt. Are the writers trying to tell me that in a city the size of Trenton, New Jersey he’s the only mechanic able to suss out a fried solenoid??

(Gripe unrelated to geeky techincal issues: Wendy made the observation that in no way could the lame, “let’s dink about the house like the Four Stooges” Martian creatures seen briefly during the middle of the film be the creators of the complicated machines that rise up out of the ground to go stalking and disintegrating the countryside. I agree. As crude – by today’s standards – as were the Martians in the Gene Barry 1950s version of the movie, nonetheless they were a heck of a lot creepier than this new bunch.)

Three. This wasn’t really a thread left hanging, but there is a nice little denouement to the story. In August I told of the discovery of the web site of a rather rabid seeker of public office here in Poughkeepsie. The more I read, the more I smelled something fishy, without being able to put a finger on anything solid. Then I saw a clear case of copyright and trademark infringement; unambiguously fraudulent use. As that’s one of my pet causes, I took some time to (I hoped) throw a little chaos into this person’s campaign by alerting the owners of the infringed property, and by writing in to the local newspaper’s op ed page.

Now, I don’t pretend to claim or even know whether there’s any cause and effect at work here, but I did read in the newspaper about a week ago that this individual had withdrawn from the race under suspicion of fraudulently using invalid signatures to get on the ballot. Was I surprised? No. Was I unabashedly delighted? You betcha. In these times of big governmental lunacy running on a scale that’s frankly astounding, it’s little victories like this on the local level that keep me believing that the pendulum will right itself. Wait… unfortunate choice of words there: The pendulum will correct itself.